On Friday, a work of ancient Anatolian tribal art, the Guennol Stargazer, one of 15 intact examples known to the world, was sold for $14.4m at Christie’s. This was not the first time one Mr. Martin’s artifacts attracted serious money. Nearly a decade ago, his lioness brought $57m at auction.
The both archeological objects were named after the family of Alistair Martin who was a trustee of the Brooklyn museum and its Chairman in the mid-to-late 1980s. Mr. Martin was the grandson of Henry Phipps, as august a Gilded-Age New Yorker as one might ever hope to come across, and also served on the acquisitions committee of the Metropolitan museum, the Brooklyn museum’s somewhat over-bearing sibling encyclopedic institution.
Why is this relevant? Because today, the New York Times, seems to be rattling doors on Eastern Parkway. In a way, you can’t blame the Times. They have barely finished parading Thomas Campbell’s head on a pike. Now they’re looking to see what might shake loose at the gateway to Crown Heights by putting a little pressure on the museum’s supposed turn toward Contemporary art.
Today’s story emphasizes the challenges facing Anne Pasternak, the relatively new head of the museum who comes from the Contemporary art world:
It didn’t help that Ms. Pasternak’s star hire, the highly respected contemporary art specialist Nancy Spector, who came from the Guggenheim Museum last spring with great fanfare, decided to return to the Guggenheim less than a year later. Though the Guggenheim, according to many accounts, made Ms. Spector an offer she couldn’t refuse, her departure nevertheless suggested that an encyclopedic museum — or perhaps one run by Ms. Pasternak — was not for her. (Ms. Spector declined to comment.)
That urgent packaging up top doesn’t really capture the Times’s own conclusions which are really quite laudatory of Pasternak, her goals and approach to the challenges the museum faces:Continue Reading